With the legislature adjourned until the fall veto session in October and November, I am traveling the 79th District which includes parts of Kankakee, Grundy, and Will Counties. I provided end-of-session updates to organizations discussing legislation approved this year and how it affects us locally.
On July 1st, numerous laws went into effect impacting our everyday lives. July 1st was the first day of the state’s fiscal year and the biggest new law is the 2020 budget and its accompanying expenses. A moving violation for texting, Tobacco 21, and the ability of mayors to perform marriages are now law. I wanted to make you aware of these new laws and help you understand how the policy changes in the State of Illinois are going to affect you this summer and beyond.
Four New Laws Taking Effect July 1st
July 1stmarks the first day of the state’s new fiscal year. The State Budget for 2019-2020 is in effect. Also, effective July 1st are:
- HB 345: The “Tobacco 21” bill bans the sale of tobacco products, vaping products, and liquid nicotine products to anyone younger than 21. Ironically, it removes illegal “possession” provisions for these products for anyone younger than 21. It sets the legal age of selling e-cigarette products at 16 to match tobacco laws with exceptions for family-owned businesses.
- SB 28: This new law defines a school day as at least five clock hours. The law gives school districts the flexibility to address the needs of students including scheduling flexibility that impacts transportation, dual credit opportunities, co-operative work agreements, and many other types of education that occur in different learning environments.
- SB 1814: As part of this year’s budget implementation bill, individuals working for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) who provide services to children at risk will receive a 5% increase in their reimbursement rates. It is the first increase these employees received in 13 years.
- SB 1939: The Capital Plan. The gas tax is the cornerstone of the $45 Billion Capital Plan. The gas tax doubled from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon. The tax hike pushes Illinois from 10th to 3rd in the nation for highest gas taxes. In addition, Cook County municipalities can add their own additional gas tax of up to 3 cents per gallon. The tax hit the pumps July 1st. This tax increase is used to pay for the Capital Plan projects including road and bridge projects across the state. I am fighting for projects in the 79th District.
Tougher Penalties for Texting While Driving Take Effect on July 1
A recent survey of Illinois high school students shows nearly ½ of Illinois teens admit to texting while driving. It is now a moving violation for Illinois drivers caught using or even just holding an electronic device while behind the wheel.
Unlike previous distracted driving laws, tickets issued under this new state law may affect a driver’s permanent driving record. 1st offense fines start at $75 and increase by $25 increments up to a maximum fine of $150. 3 or more tickets for texting while driving may result in a suspended driver’s license. These new rules are not limited to cellphones. They apply to any electronic communication device, including hand-held personal digital assistant, tablet, or laptop computers.
Motor Fuel Tax Revenue Protected in “Lockbox”
Where does the money from the new motor fuel “gas” tax go? It goes to a Lock Box account and is only supposed to be used for transportation projects. The “Safe Roads/Transportation Lockbox Amendment” was a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution approved by voters in the November 2016 general election.
The Amendment addressed decades-long misuse of transportation-related revenues, namely the Road Fund State Construction Account Fund and the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC), the group who spear-headed the Constitutional Amendment, noted close to $6.8 billion of transportation-related funds were raided between FY02 and FY15 and used for other non-transportation state costs.
This Amendment changed the Illinois Constitution to prohibit the use of money collected through transportation fees and taxes to be used for anything other than transportation-related expenditures. Under the amendment, transportation funds may be used by the State or local governments only for the following purposes:
- Costs related to administering transportation and vehicle laws, including public safety purposes and the payment of obligations—such as bonds
- The State or local share necessary to secure federal funds or for local government transportation purposes as authorized by law
- The construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, maintenance, and operation of highways, mass transit, and railroad crossings
- Expenses related to workers’ compensation claims for death or injury of transportation agency employees
- To purchase land for building highways or buildings to be used for highway purposes
SB 1939 created the Transportation Renewal Fund and provides the 19-cent increase in motor fuel taxes must be deposited into the newly created fund. The increase is distributed as follows:
- 80% for roads and bridges; of which:
- 60% to the State Construction Account Fund
- Funds in State Construction Account Fund can only be used for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of the State maintained highway system
- 40% to Local Governments (identical to existing distribution to local governments)
- 60% to the State Construction Account Fund
- 20% for transit (90% RTA, 10% downstate transit systems)
Beginning July 1, 2020, the Auditor General is required to conduct an annual audit to provide for additional protections against any transportation diversions from the Motor Fuel Tax increase.
Mark your Calendar for Upcoming Events in the 79th District:
- JOB FAIR Friday, July 19, 2019, at The Knights of Columbus located at 187 S Indiana Ave in Kankakee from 9:00 AM – 12 Noon
Mayors now able to perform marriages:
Mayors are now able to officiate marriage ceremonies. A marriage may also be ‘solemnized’ by a mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town who is the current officeholder. The mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town is not allowed to receive any compensation in exchange for performing the marriage ceremony.
As always, it is an honor to serve as your State Representative. Please contact me if you have any additional questions, feedback, or thoughts by phone (815) 523-7779 or online repparkhurst.com